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16 week marathon plan (training by RPE and time)

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16 week marathon plan (training by RPE and time)


Rachel Sheldrake

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16 Weeks

Plan Description

This plan is suitable for recreational marathon runners, including those training for a first marathon. The plan is specifically designed to suit women who are going through menopause and need a flexible approach to training. The plan assumes an ability to run 8 to 9 miles at an easy effort level prior to starting.

The plan is based on training by effort (RPE - Rate of Perceived Exertion) and comprises a mixture of easy effort running (labelled 'easy day' with some short, hard efforts labelled 'hard day'. The key to success is to ensure that the 'easy' runs are run at a very easy effort level thus saving energy to be able to run the 'hard' efforts as hard as required, and to be able to run some of the optional runs as well. If needed, some of the long runs could be undertaken as hikes.

The plan is based on a 3-week training cycle: 2 weeks building up, followed by a 'step-back' week, again to promote good recovery and minimise fatigue.

Each week comprises 3 core runs, and a further 2 runs labelled OPTIONAL. The OPTIONAL runs can be added if fatigue levels and recovery permit. There is one complete rest day and one day which can be used for additional rest or strength work. Easy effort cross-training could also be added to easy run days or rest days, provided that they do not over-fatigue the body and compromise the quality of the running.

Whilst runs are allocated to days of the week, these can be swapped around, and should be swapped around if feeling fatigued. [NB the long run should not be moved next to a 'hard day'. You can upgrade to the Premium version of Training Peaks to allow runs/days to be swapped online.

Alll runs can be undertaken on any terrain, including hills. Ideally, the terrain used should be as similar as possible to the terrain that will feature in the target marathon.

A recent client who used this plan successfully said "I followed this marathon plan, which was quite different to any I'd used before - and I was surprised to knock 14 minutes off my marathon time in the process!"

How it Works

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Training Plan Sample Week


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
Run x6
04:55:00 03:00:00
Day Off x2
—— ——
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
04:55:00 03:00:00
Day Off
—— ——

Training Load By Week

This plan works best with the following fitness devices:

  • Heart Rate Monitor

All supported devices

Rachel Sheldrake

Mud and miles trail running and coaching

Are you a trail runner looking for support, structure and advice to help you meet your running goals? Perhaps you want to start out running off-road but aren't sure how to plan your running week? Maybe you have entered a trail race and need someone to help you stay on track with your training? Whether you are a new runner or someone with more experience; whether you want to run your first 5K, or are working towards an ultra, I can help you progress towards your goal.

  • This plan includes a Free Basic TrainingPeaks Account.
  • Access your training plan anywhere on the TrainingPeaks mobile and desktop apps.
  • Track your performance with robust data tracking and detailed graphs.
  • Plan for your event in the TrainingPeaks calendar.
  • Track your weight, sleep, hours, fatigue and stress while you train.
  • Syncs daily with other popular apps like Garmin and MyFitnessPal.

Refund Policy

This plan is protected by our Refund Policy and may, with the author's approval, be exchanged for a plan of equal value from the same author.

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